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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 30, 2024
  2. Abstract Due to commonalities in pathophysiology, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) represents a uniquely accessible model to investigate therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, leading us to examine whether pathways of disease progression are shared across neurodegenerative conditions. Here we use single-nucleus RNA sequencing to profile lesions from 11 postmortem human retinas with age-related macular degeneration and 6 control retinas with no history of retinal disease. We create a machine-learning pipeline based on recent advances in data geometry and topology and identify activated glial populations enriched in the early phase of disease. Examining single-cell data from Alzheimer’s disease and progressive multiple sclerosis with our pipeline, we find a similar glial activation profile enriched in the early phase of these neurodegenerative diseases. In late-stage age-related macular degeneration, we identify a microglia-to-astrocyte signaling axis mediated by interleukin-1 β which drives angiogenesis characteristic of disease pathogenesis. We validated this mechanism using in vitro and in vivo assays in mouse, identifying a possible new therapeutic target for AMD and possibly other neurodegenerative conditions. Thus, due to shared glial states, the retina provides a potential system for investigating therapeutic approaches in neurodegenerative diseases. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. In modern relational machine learning it is common to encounter large graphs that arise via interactions or similarities between observations in many domains. Further, in many cases the target entities for analysis are actually signals on such graphs. We propose to compare and organize such datasets of graph signals by using an earth mover’s distance (EMD) with a geodesic cost over the underlying graph. Typically, EMD is computed by optimizing over the cost of transporting one probability distribution to another over an underlying metric space. However, this is inefficient when computing the EMD between many signals. Here, we propose an unbalanced graph EMD that efficiently embeds the unbalanced EMD on an underlying graph into an L1 space, whose metric we call unbalanced diffusion earth mover’s distance (UDEMD). Next, we show how this gives distances between graph signals that are robust to noise. Finally, we apply this to organizing patients based on clinical notes, embedding cells modeled as signals on a gene graph, and organizing genes modeled as signals over a large cell graph. In each case, we show that UDEMD-based embeddings find accurate distances that are highly efficient compared to other methods. 
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  4. We propose a method called integrated diffusion for combining multimodal data, gathered via different sensors on the same system, to create a integrated data diffusion operator. As real world data suffers from both local and global noise, we introduce mechanisms to optimally calculate a diffusion operator that reflects the combined information in data by maintaining low frequency eigenvectors of each modality both globally and locally. We show the utility of this integrated operator in denoising and visualizing multimodal toy data as well as multi-omic data generated from blood cells, measuring both gene expression and chromatin accessibility. Our approach better visualizes the geometry of the integrated data and captures known cross-modality associations. More generally, integrated diffusion is broadly applicable to multimodal datasets generated by noisy sensors collected in a variety of fields. 
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  5. Big data often has emergent structure that exists at multiple levels of abstraction, which are useful for characterizing complex interactions and dynamics of the observations. Here, we consider multiple levels of abstraction via a multiresolution geometry of data points at different granularities. To construct this geometry we define a time-inhomogemeous diffusion process that effectively condenses data points together to uncover nested groupings at larger and larger granularities. This inhomogeneous process creates a deep cascade of intrinsic low pass filters on the data affinity graph that are applied in sequence to gradually eliminate local variability while adjusting the learned data geometry to increasingly coarser resolutions. We provide visualizations to exhibit our method as a “continuously-hierarchical” clustering with directions of eliminated variation highlighted at each step. The utility of our algorithm is demonstrated via neuronal data condensation, where the constructed multiresolution data geometry uncovers the organization, grouping, and connectivity between neurons. 
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